Thursday, February 18, 2016

On Art, Ad Seg, Arsenic, and the Aptitude of Okies

Here are several odds and ends which merit readers attention:

Arsenic, without the Old Lace
The ongoing story of arsenic in the water in Kenedy, Texas, site of the 2,800 bed Connally unit, hasn't garnered as much attention as jail inmates in Flint, Michigan drinking contaminated water, but the underlying issues are similar. It's one thing for free-world locals to "choose" to live there once they know they're drinking contaminated water, it's another entirely to subject prisoners to unhealthy water with no alternative.

Texas ad seg numbers down by nearly half since '06
Reported the Houston Chronicle (2/13), "just over 4,900 convicts were being held in administrative segregation in Texas, down from more than 9,500 in 2006." TDCJ "now has several programs in place to divert more convicts from solitary confinement, including one that gives prisoners a way to renounce their gang affiliation and another that diverts mentally ill convicts to a therapeutic program that provides education and rehabilitative program to help the transition to a regular prison or parole."

Civil commitment judge leaves office under cloud
Another blow to the state's completely dysfunctional civil commitment program: The judge assigned to oversee all those cases just left office under a cloud. Reported the Houston Chronicle (2/16), "Michael Seiler, the Conroe judge who presided for years over the state's troubled civil commitment program for sex offenders, resigned his post Tuesday as part of a deal with prosecutors that ended a criminal investigation into a campaign mailing he sent to former jurors."

Why people don't ask cops for help
Weatherford PD edition.

In which category did they count Jester dorm at UT?
This dated-but-new-to-me-item from Vox found in 2015 that Texas was one of 16 states with more people in prisons and jails than in college housing.

Bodycams rolling out w/o transparency
Bodycams are beginning to roll out at SAPD this month, which all officers scheduled to begin using them within two years. But all the transparency issues remain unresolved.

Sex-offender residency restrictions dumb as an Okie*
Here's a story out of Tulsa, OK which demonstrates the case underlying Texas' Voices litigation strategy to roll back sex-offender residency restrictions in small towns. Reported the Tulsa World, since implementing geographic residency restrictions in 2006 which banned sex offenders from virtually everywhere but "industrial areas, wealthy neighborhoods, or undeveloped areas," hundreds of Tulsans have de-registered because they have no address: "2006 just turned our world upside down, prior to that we had 15 to 20 (failure to register) violations a year. Since that we have hundreds of violations a year," said the officer managing the program for the Tulsa PD, who added, "Legislators felt that if we put all of this off limits, they'll just move out of state. That didn't happen, they just stopped registering." Folks gotta live somewhere.

Art, women and solitary confinement
As our friends at the Prison Justice League prepare to host viewings next week of Mariposa and the Saint, a stage production about a woman in solitary confinement (go here for ticket information), Grits should point out that the Marshall Project this week made available a short video excerpt. Also check out a review of the play from the New Yorker published last fall. If you're in Austin, it's a chance to see a cool event and support the Prison Justice League's important work organizing state prisoners currently incarcerated in TDCJ.

*With apologies to Okie expats: We Texans attribute individual Okies a bunch of extra IQ points if you had the good sense to migrate. ;)


From Dallas said...

Thank-you GFB for your continued dedication to TX criminal justice information.

Let's add to this week's news: 18 Texas Correctional Officers Disciplined in Inmate Death

"Texas prison officials have recommended the firing of a supervisor at the Clements Unit and disciplinary actions against 17 others for failing to conduct required checks on a cell where an inmate was severely beaten. The inmate later died.

"Our preliminary review has identified areas where policies, unrelated to the homicide, were not being properly followed by certain correctional staff at the prison," said Jason Clark, a spokesman for the Texas Department of Criminal Justice.

Of the 18 Clements Unit correctional officers disciplined, one — Maj. Rowdy Boggs — has been recommended for dismissal, Clark said. The remaining 17 have been disciplined, including suspensions without pay and letters of reprimand, he said. The 3,700-inmate Clements Unit is outside Amarillo.

Clark declined to say how long the assigned cell of inmates Alton Rodgers and Joe Greggs remained unopened and searched before the 31-year-old Rodgers was found unresponsive on Jan. 18. Rodgers, who suffered a skull fracture and bleeding in his brain, died the following day. Clark said a criminal investigation of the case is pending."

Anonymous said...

@ dallas - Firing is not enough - these guards should be prosecuted.

Anonymous said...

I forwarded Grits' Oklahoma comments to a correspondent who resides in Oklahoma. This is his comment, in part:

Unintended consequences. Under the conservative state leadership there are really bizarre happenings. It was recently announced Okie teachers would receive a $3000 raise. Well that ain't gonna happen. We could pass legislation tomorrow to give teachers a fifty cent raise and that won't happen cause there is no money. We have a $1.3 billion dollar deficit. The State Attorney General's office will receive negligible cuts cause of his good works of suing the Federal Government over Obamacare and suing Colorado cause Okies are getting high on Colorado gold.

I am going to start a statewide petition in which we will ask for the state government to abrogate all political responsibilities and turn said responsibilities over to the City of Oklahoma City and the University of Oklahoma Band. Guaranteed, either or both of these organizations could do a better job than the conservative clowns now running the circus.

Anonymous said...


I'd recently heard this statistic - that ad segregation has been cut in half since 2006. I'm curious about how many total prisoners were present in 2006 and today. Has the overall general population reduced by half - and does that make this ad-seg number look better?


Anonymous said...

Erin Brocovich could uncover if not already the same toxins in Tyler, TX. water system! East Texas water systems are like chemical plants. A complete investigation is needed.